The Southampton fans were relieved to finally claim a rare Premier League victory on Saturday afternoon as they recorded a 3-2 victory over West Bromwich Albion at The Hawthorns.
Southampton’s season has been their most disappointing Premier League campaign since they earned promotion to the top-flight in 2012. The Saints appear to have regressed under Mauricio Pellegrino since his appointment last summer as the Argentine has failed to inspire a series of positive results or implement his own brand football into the club.
Making the decision to sack Pellegrino would undoubtedly be an enormous risk for The Saints board to take at this stage of the season now that just twelve games remain in the league. With that to consider, both the Southampton hierarchy and loyal supporters will now need to invest their faith into both the manager and the players until the end of the season.
The Saints victory away at West Brom on Saturday may have gone some way to boosting the belief at the club, but there is still plenty of work to be done on the south coast. One player who starred in Southampton’s victory over The Baggies was James Ward-Prowse (valued at £13.5 million by Trasnfermarkt).
Ward-Prowse is conventionally a central-midfield player by trade, but Pellegrino has opted to start Southampton’s academy product on the right-side of midfield in the majority of his appearances this season. His record of 5 goals and 2 assists from 25 appearances in all-competitions is hardly ground-breaking, but he is not the type of player who Southampton would expect to be topping the goal and assist charts.
What Ward-Prowse does possess is the incredibly unique ability to strike a dead ball with delicate precision and devastating power, whether it be from a corner or a free-kick – a skill which could be utilised by England at the World Cup in Russia 2018.
The 23-year-old’s performances this season have not been of a high enough standard to justify his selection for the World Cup just yet, but if he can begin to increase his impact in the final-third and regularly demonstrate how deadly his set-pieces can be, the Southampton star could be set for a shock call-up to Gareth Southgate’s England squad this summer.